The crate debate: Should you crate your chihuahua?

The crate debate. Should you crate your chihuahua?

Nothing divides opinion like the decision to crate your chihuahua. Some people are all for it and consider it an essential part of dog training and others are dead against it and believe it is cruel.

So, should you crate your chihuahua or will crating eventually be consigned to the past like punitive training?

Arguments for crating:

On the face of it there seems to be some sound reasons to crate your chihuahua.

It gives a nervous dog a place to go when noisy children or workman come to the house. Chihuahuas are very territorial and they are especially agitated when visitors arrive. In some cases, they may be driven to bite. It makes sense to crate your chihuahua so he is secure and can’t get into trouble.

Crating makes your dog feel secure if introduced in a positive way. The idea that they view the crate as a den and a safe space.

Helps with potty training, enthusiast believe that they won’t toilet in their den and will hold it while crated.

Keeps them safe when you are out. If you crate your chihuahua he is not going to trash the house, chew wires and eat none food items.

Keeps them contained if they are sick. If your dog has had an operation and needs bedrest then a crate is going to stop them running about or jumping from sofas.

Useful as a home from home if your travel with your chihuahuas. Your crate will travel so you can take it with you. You can keep your dog crated in the car for safety reasons.


Arguments against crating:

Some feel a crate is a cage regardless of the fancy name and dogs should not be kept in cages. Rescued chis may come from puppy farms and will have been crated 24/7 and being re-introduced to crates causes stress.

Some research suggests that crating leads to under socialized dogs. Dogs are pack animals that thrive on companionship, exercise and interaction. Keeping them isolated in a crate for extended periods of time causes phycological problems. These problems will then manifest themselves in difficult behaviours which leads to more crating.

I’ve heard a few misguided dog owners say that Fido likes to sit in his cage.” He feels secure.” What they are really telling me is that their dog is not secure in the home environment. The dog feels threatened unless he’s caged! Warren Eckstine

Contrary to belief, It does not speed up toilet training, dogs may eat their own faeces rather than to live with it while they are in the crate. If they cannot hold their urine and continually mess in their crate they become depressed and stop caring about keeping clean. It can also cause kidney and bladder problems from holding it in. Both things making toilet training even harder.

Peta ( suggests that puppy mill rescues are often harder to toilet train for this reason.

Dogs may damage themselves trying to find a way out by chewing or scraping. Damaging their mouth and paws.

It is true, your dog does need his own space and a place to retreat, a cosy basket under a table or desk or in the mud room will do the trick.

if your  chihuahua is stressed by children visiting the children need to be taught to respect that and leave them alone when told. Most chis will take themselves away from the action of their own accord. But if necessary a baby gate can be useful.

Crating is for people

Crating is a new phenomenon designed for the convenience of people rather than the dogs. It causes separation anxiety which chihuahuas are especially prone to as they tend to imprint on one member of the household and want to be with them.

If you are going to be out for more than 4 hours then you need to arrange for a dog walker to visit and take your chi out. Harsh as it sounds, if you find yourself crating your chihuahua or any dog for 8 hours at a stretch then you might need to re-think if it’s the right time in your life to have a dog.

We have never crated our dogs and I am more in the against camp. If your dog is eating the sofa when you are out then you have a different problem that is not going to be solved by putting your chihuahua in a cage for hours at a time.

My feeling used to be that the only time a dog needs to be in a crate is when they are sick or travelling in a car, but I have seen crates provide a safe, cosy den for dogs we have fostered. So I can see in some circumstances they can be useful. But, not longer than a couple of hours unless it’s bed time.

We would love to hear your feedback. Please leave comments below.

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10 thoughts on “The crate debate: Should you crate your chihuahua?

  1. Maggi V.

    We crate our twin Chis in a GIANT crate that has a large pee pad and a comfy blanket in it. They are out when we are home, only restrained from down the hall by a baby gate to keep them from the “cat tootsies.” We treat the crate as a safe place, so in turn the pups bound in there and lay down when we ask them to.

  2. Pamala R Verreras

    Yes I crate my chihuahua .I live in a small room and when I leave I don’t want her loose, so I just say crate and she knows when she goes in, she gets a treat .I leave the door open when I’m at home and she will ,quite often ,go in there all by herself she likes it.

  3. Laura O

    I crate trained my chi at 8!weeks. I would bring the crate on my bed and fall asleep touching her with my fingers through the cage. If she was not on or with me she was in the crate and I took her out to pottytrain constantly. I had a dog walker too. Soon enough I put the crate withing a larger fenced in dog area with pee pads. But still. Every 2-3 hours she went outside to pee and get a treat. After 3 ‘months I had a potty trained dog. I hated doing this but I don’t have a dog that’s makes the house a mess 99 % of the time.

  4. Shirley McBride

    Never having had such a small dog before I researched about chi’s when I knew I was getting one – it’s really my mum’s wee dog but I am his constant and train and exercise him and is around me most of the time, my mum has him for sleep overs if I have early work shifts. We have ‘caves’ in both living rooms. Barney who is now 7 months old is only in the cave when we have to go out to the shops or other short term causes. Most he is in the cave is around 2 hours . It is safer for him as he would chew cables and wires if given the opportunity… Being so small there are a lot more hazards to be aware of. Mum also has him during day if I am working or doing anything else that I can’t take him with me. Wouldn’t be without him now and he has settled well into our routines. As long as your dog/s are happy in their caves then this is the safest way to keep them from harms way. Once he is a bit older and not teething or being destructive I may try him without his cave….

  5. Hazel Clench

    I’ve never crated before I had my chi he only goes in when I have to go out and can’t take him with me, it also gives him some peace from out springer puppy he has no worries about going in there for short periods of time he sleeps next to us but is normally on the bed in the morning, he’s the pack leader, loves everybody has never nipped goes to dog trading our 14 year old grandson trains him they adore each other, he goes out up the fields runs off lead with the springer no problem he’s very fast and fit.

  6. Liz Taylor

    We have four Spaniels all rescue & had never used a crate until we fostered our first dog & the rescue suggested we use one as you never know what the dog you are fostering is capable of & it also gives them somewhere to observe you from. We ended up with four Spaniels three who had crates & one who had a basket & who at every opportunity jumped into the others crates so she got one of her own. Our three year old Chihuahua is a rescue too & she came with her own crate. We planned on adopting another Rescue Chi but Chihuahua rescue won’t rehome to people who crate their dogs so we bought a pup and became friends with the breeder who is delighted we care enough to crate her when out. In fact we decided not to crate the two Chis but to get a playpen with a floor for them and it works a treat. We have always taken our Chihuahua with us on weekends away while the big ones go to kennels & she stays in the Travelodge with us sleeping in her crate at night & if we are out and the pup will do the same. Our main holiday was to a cottage which takes well behaved dogs but four wet, sandy spaniels & two wet sandy Chis would not sit well so crates go with us & a towel down & snooze with drying coats on does the trick and then the sofas. There is the safety aspect to with chewing wires, knocking things over or tragically as happened to a friends Jrt who followed the cat onto a table, jumped off & broke its back! Dog seat belts in a car stop the dog flying through the air but don’t protect the dog in a serious accident …we use crash tested Trans-K 9 dog crates with their carrier inside one.

  7. Angela

    I have 3 Chihuahuas that are crated at night. This is an extra large cage with a memory foam mattress and lots of blankets which is situated in my bedroom. One of they tends to take himself to bed throughout the day too. They happily go in at night when I tell them it’s time for bed. I don’t agree in locking them in when I go out and allow them full roam of the house. They are locked in at night mainly for their own safety

  8. Susan Hunton

    We are looking to get a rescue Chi in the New Year and my plan is to buy an Indoor Kennel which can double as a travel
    carrier. These indoor kennels are made of thick canvas type material and a medium one will give plenty of space for our little friend and probably room for cosy bed too. they have mesh sides and unzip so that s/he can come and go at will. I would endeavour not to over-use it – nighttime and if we go out in evening for a few hours when will be sleeping anyway

  9. E Goldie-Scot

    I used a crate for my wire haired dachshund and my Pekingese who sadly both died in 2015, they were only in it at night when puppies and being house trained. They both loved it so much that I kept it out for them with door open when they were adults .They used to go into it during the day to have a sleep some times both at same time.!I do not agree that is for
    owners benefit only. If it is correctly used a dog get great benefit from it as it is a place they can feel safe and secure. I am getting a long haired chihuahua puppy in a few days and will be using a crate for her. Her breeder who
    is kennel club listed recommend it and said how beneficial it was for a puppy.

  10. Pat Tristrin

    We have had 5 chihuahuas and each has been treated differently. Only 1 required the use of a crate because she has seizures and we have hard floors which she could hurt herself on when falling unsupervised. It is much safer to keep her contained at night and when we pop out (we bought a bowl that is clipped slightly higher on the inside of the crate so that there is no chance of drowning in her water if she has a seizure, and there is a proper bed and plenty of padding). She considers it her own safe place to sleep, but can use the many other beds in the house during the day to have a more social cuddle with the other chihuahuas. We don’t actually like crating and I change the bedding a lot from cool, open beds in the summer, to an igloo bed inside there in the winter, as I worry about her – but I think it would be more of a worry with her health if she wasn’t contained.

    For the only other dog that we have needed to keep secure (because she has no bladder control), we use a large pen with space for two beds (one summer and one igloo), a water bowl and space for a pee mat. Again, some restrictions are needed because of her special physical needs. So, for us, the physical health of our dogs have determined the best method. The other dogs, without special needs, have always had the freedom of the house.

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